“Some of us believe that certain services would more effectively be provided by a city than the county,” Allen Venet, president of the initiative group. said. “We have identified five Ps that we would like local control of – parks, police, planning, permits and potholes.”
According to resident and former planning commissioner for DeKalb County Don Broussard, three events at the end of 2012 and the start of this year spurred the cityhood movement.
“The search warrants served on Burrell Ellis and the subsequent investigations, the DeKalb school system being placed on accreditation probation and a vote last November by five members of the county commission to issue a certificate allowing development of Clifton Ridge subdivision in Druid Hills,” Broussard said. “This said to me that we have lost control of our area and there is no accountability by DeKalb officials.”
The boundaries for the proposed city are inside the Perimeter, between I–85 on the north and the city of Decatur on the south border. The Briarcliff area is centered around Emory University and the Centers for Disease Control headquarters.
“Emory and the CDC are the economic heart of our community,” DeKalb resident Herman Lorenz said. “We don’t want to exclude them from our plans. Those institutions can provide an immense value to the government and planning for a city. They attract a great ‘brain trust’ for the community.”
If the proposed municipality were to gain these two businesses, it would take tax dollars away from the county. With the current state law, interim DeKalb County CEO Lee May said he could not support any new cities. He said if the law changes, he would be not against new cities coming into the county.
“Under current state law, cherry picking of choice commercial and affluent residential properties is fair game,” Lee said in a statement. “When this occurs, it takes a portion of the taxes and all of the licensing and fees – it can be argued that with a decrease in county services, there will be some savings in this process, but there is no way to cut dollar for dollar for a city’s share when a city takes property from county control. For these reasons, I cannot support any new cities or new incorporations, and I am asking our state lawmakers in the general assembly to refrain from any incorporations this year.”
The Georgia Legislature will have a chance to vote on the initiative when it begins its next session in January. Residents are working together to raise awareness on the movement by hosting community meetings.